This past Friday, the world took a break from humanitarian strife, economic tumult and that whole “dueling memos” thing and shifted its gaze to PyeongChang, South Korea, where elite winter athletes from across the globe have gathered to see which country’s biochemists can concoct the least-detectable performance-enhancing drugs.
To some, the Winter Olympics represent an opportunity for the nations of Earth to unite in peace (and spandex); to others, they symbolize planetary inequality. For everyone, the 2018 PyeongChang Games are a great excuse to spend 16 days glued to the TV firmly convinced you’re doing something worthwhile.
And, because women’s volleyball is a summer event, you’re mercifully spared those awkward viewings with your father-in-law, who, it turns out, is kind of a dirty old man. Likewise, you won’t have to endure your wife’s endless commentary about how “sick” Michael Phelps’ “bod” is, especially in comparison to your own.
Of course, the Winter Olympics are ground zero for skin-tight bodysuits. As a result, PyeongChang will spend 16 days awash in male camel toe, or, as it’s colloquially known, “moose knuckles” (“elkeu jigwanjeolbu” in Korean). You will not escape your wife’s endless commentary about that. Oh, well, that’s what you get for watching events at the Sliding Centre in ultra-HD.
Still, thanks to the PyeongChang Games, we can all take a much needed break from caring about the nearly averted federal government shutdown (our second in two months), a looming global nuclear missile crisis and the scrapping of plans for “crunchless” Doritos immediately after PepsiCo announced them. Man, that was poised to be the greatest breakthrough in clandestine midnight snacking since Nutella mini cups.
The 2018 Winter Olympics feature 102 events in 15 disciplines. Personally, I’m partial to the biathlon, an event that combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. Sure, this may sound like an odd mix, but when you think about it, rifle shooting pairs well with everything. Just ask Wayne LaPierre.
Obviously, I also enjoy the non-ballistic Olympic events, like figure skating — although, can’t we at least arm the ice dancers? — and alpine racing, specifically, Super G, which happens to be the name of my crime-fighting alter ego. And who doesn’t love mixed doubles curling?
Oh, yeah, I’m a total fan of the Sliding Centre events, too: bobsleigh, luge and skeleton. I mean, not enough to follow them in the intervening four years between Olympics — or even to remember which one is which. But for these two weeks, I’m a “sleigh’r,” a “luge-fiend,” a “skeletonhead.” I kind of want to build my own Sliding Centre at home, you know, hose down the driveway, break out some plastic cafeteria trays, slip into a spandex bodysuit, get my own “elkeu jigwanjeolbu” going.
Anyway, that’s not to call the 2018 games free of controversy.
For one, economists project a price tag in excess of $13.1 billion, more than the combined GDPs of Eritrea and Kosovo, two of six nations slated to make their Winter Olympics debut. Of course, whatever the cost, hosting the Winter Olympics is sure to put PyeongChang on the map — just look what it’s done for cities like Albertville, Lillehammer and Sarajevo.
Plus, there’s the Russian doping scandal, not to mention concerns related to the ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula — but again, like I said, who cares? I mean, as long they don’t pre-empt Evgeni Plushenko’s long-form program.
Luckily, a full two weeks exist before the whole thing wraps up and we can focus our attention back where it belongs — the Academy Awards. But as you watch the remainder of the 2018 Winter Olympics unfold, consider these ponderables:
What’s that smudge under Apolo Anton Ohno’s chin? Is that supposed to be a “soul patch?” It’s much more akin to my first-grader’s “brownie mouth.”
Is it just me, or is Shaun White a dead-ringer for Carrot Top? Maybe they’re the same person. Ever notice how you never see them in the same room together? Although to be fair, I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with Carrot Top, either.
Whatever happened to that guy who sang “Gangnam Style?” Is there a Korean “Dancing with the Stars?”
The 2022 Winter Games will be held in Beijing, China. But the bidding remains open for 2026. Cities exploring potential bids include Graz and Schladming, Austria; Sion, Switzerland and Erzurum, Turkey. No offense to Graz, Schladming, Sion or Erzurum—and you know how touchy the people of Erzurum can be — but it currently looks like a pretty open field.
I say we mount our own bid, Juneau. Seriously. We got the humpback whale sculpture. Now all we need is the Olympics.
Oh, right, and some snow. But it’s bound to snow sometime before 2026 … isn’t it?
• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday.